Remnants of the old Erie Canal

Today I took the Bumblebeemer to Macedon, NY to check out the remains of Gallup’s Bridge and Lock 60. Gallup’s Bridge was a steel bridge that replaced an earlier wooden version and carried traffic over the canal. Lock 60 was part of the original canal and was enlarged twice in its lifetime. Both were abandoned when the canal was enlarged (for the last time) and rerouted in the early 1900s.

Under the Bridge by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Bolt by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Gate by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Long Chamber by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

The complicated history of rice in the American South

For some unknown reason this lifelong New Yorker loves Southern food, especially dishes made with rice. Rice is a big part of food from places like Louisiana and South Carolina and as expected its history is complicated. How rice came here, how it was cultivated and what it represents is inextricably tied to slavery, African culture and what it means to be a Southerner.

The Most Important Scientist You’ve Never Heard Of

Pretty much as long as there has been human civilization, there has been lead. While it’s certainly useful, that usefulness has come with a terrible price. It’s been known since the Greeks and Romans that lead is harmful but it didn’t stop us from using it. It took a “fringe” scientist by the name of Clair Patterson, who accidentally discovered widespread lead contamination while trying to measure the age of the Earth, to finally convince people that the use of lead needed to be strictly curtailed.

It’s hard not to see parallels with the current battle of global climate change. Despite overwhelming evidence a few industry-supported voices still manage to keep us from doing anything. Will there be a modern Clair Patterson to finally bring us to our senses or are we doomed?

Ev Williams says Twitter’s role in Trump’s rise is ‘a very bad thing’

In an interview with the NY Times, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams says Twitter’s role in Trump’s rise is ‘a very bad thing’.

Commenting on the view of Silicon Valley as the “modern Prometheus”, Williams said:

What we tend to forget is that Zeus was so pissed at Prometheus that he chained him to a rock so eagles could peck out his guts for eternity,” he said. “Some would say that’s what we deserve for giving the power of tweets to Donald Trump.

FCC Ignores The Will Of The Public, Votes To Begin Dismantling Net Neutrality

You have to hand it to the Republicans, they don’t even pretend to care about anyone other than rich people and corporations. So the recent FCC votes to begin dismantling Net Neutrality doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

In the short term, you shouldn’t expect anything significant to change since there will be numerous lawsuits from various groups. In the longer term, as long as the GOP controls Washington the assaults on consumers will continue and Net Neutrality destruction is a priority. If this bothers you, check out the EFF and vote for those who think your rights as a consumer are worth protecting.

The Relay Computers

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the early history of modern digital computers, particularly their importance in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during WWII. Less familiar is the computing machines that preceded them.

In response to the need for more and faster computation, researchers developed a series of analog computers that did the job but were complicated and difficult to maintain. Inspired by (and in some cases actually using) the switches used to connect telephone calls, digital computers using relays were developed that used base 2 arithmetic. As useful as they were these relay computers would end up mostly being forgotten, replaced by machines based on vacuum tubes.